Thanksgiving couldn't have come at a better time for me this year.
For the first time in my life, I feel good. I feel good every day and after 8+ years of suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, I'd say this time in my health is something to be really thankful for.
If you've been following my journey, you know I can't stop talking about my progress. I've been losing weight, feeling energized, and I haven't had any MS symptoms in weeks! I've mentioned repeatedly that it has to do with stress management and happiness exercises and you're probably wondering what that means. Today, I'm going to tell you.
When I came back from Peru last year, I felt stressed.
While I was away, I focused on stress management and healing. I practiced being patient with myself and focusing on feeling calm and it was the first time in years that I actually felt physically good. I came back feeling healthier and thinner than I'd ever been and I was afraid to go back to my old routine. That fear turned to worry and worry turned to stress. I turned to my old coping mechanisms, cheating and binge eating, and I panicked that I was losing my self control.
Here I was, well educated about food and illness, already having lost almost 160 lbs, yet still lingering in the candy aisle of the supermarket. Cheating and binging led to more stress which inevitably led to an MS flare up and a 30 lb increase on the scale.
It took over a year to bounce back from that flare and I've kept the weight on as well. I struggled to emulate all I could about how I ate and exercised in Peru, but I couldn't figure out what the secret was. Was it that I only ate 3 meals per day without snacks? Was it the low impact cardio all through the day from sightseeing? Was it the fact that I ate mostly vegan? None of it worked and I've been driving myself crazy wondering why the scale wouldn't budge or why my symptoms keep flaring.
Finally, I decided to go back and read the journal I kept in Peru.
As soon as I opened it, it was like my past self was screaming at me.
I highlighted over and over again how I need to stop stressing.
How I feel better when I'm calm.
How happy I am when my mind isn't racing.
I knew the answer the whole time, I just had to remind myself.
According to stress.org and the APA, about 48% of Americans lie awake at night because of stress which affects us physiologically, mentally, and emotionally. Chronic stress creates imbalances in the nervous system and has a direct impact on our ability to lose weight, manage symptoms of inflammatory illnesses, and could potentially be the reason why more symptoms are popping up! We're taught that being stressed is just a part of life but most of us haven't learned the tools on how to manage our stress and we're getting sicker and heavier every day.
I've done the research and a few months ago, I decided to put my hypothesis into action. If I can strengthen my stress management defense physically and mentally, infuse positivity into my routine and use brain training (daily mental exercises) to change my mindset - I should be able to balance my nervous system and regain control of my health and happiness.
I was right.
It feels like a dream. Every day, I feel a little better and, especially within the last few weeks, it is clear to me that this is the missing piece to my puzzle. By monitoring my stress levels and patiently taking action steps to prevent myself from getting overwhelmed with stress, I've lost 15 of the 30 lbs I gained and haven't experienced any MS symptoms in the past few weeks! Even though I knew how to eat and exercise, I needed to build the muscle in my brain to more effectively combat stress and I feel confident that I will continue to feel better as long as I continue on this path.
I'm starting my newsletter and blog now because, in my gut, I know, I have to share what I've learned with people who are suffering. I spent years trying to find the answer and it turns out, slowing down and becoming mindful of my actions was the answer I needed to finally find relief and hope for a happy healthy life. I'm excited to continue writing about my experience, tangible ways to reduce stress in your life, and different facts, features, and stories to help you understand how stress is impacting your health.
There is hope.
It's time to start feeling better and live your life, without the weight.